By Kathryn Trudeau
Between working at home, e-learning, and juggling meal planning and basic chores, it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And when your schedule constantly feels jammed, you probably feel overwhelmed.
The good news is that implementing a few time management strategies can help you juggle more efficiently. (No more dropping the balls!)
These time management tips can help you take back control of your schedule so you can get more done -- with less stress. And we all want less stress, right?
1. Establish Long-Term Goals
While it might seem counterproductive to think of your long-term goals when you have a hard enough time keeping up with the daily tasks, there’s a reason for this. Think back to college: if you had a big project due and you put off (and put it off and put it off), then you would have had to cram it all in the night before. Waiting for the last minute for a big project meant:
- Your project probably wasn’t as good as could be
- You had to ignore other tasks to focus on this one
The same thing can happen to your big goals. If you keep your long-term goals in mind, you won’t have to “cram” it in later. Whether your big project is folding 10 loads of laundry, re-organizing the playroom, starting to write a book, or running a 5K with your sister, keeping your long-term goals in mind can help you allot a little time each day to work on your goal.
Not only does this help you reach your goal, but it also helps you stay fulfilled as you continue on your own journey. (#PersonalDevelopment)
And feeling fulfilled is one way to avoid a funk.
2. Get Dressed
You’ve made your long-term goals, and now it’s time to get dressed for the day. Even if no one comes over to visit, even if you don’t have any Zoom calls scheduled for the day, brush your hair, get dressed, and conquer the day.
Studies show that people who get dressed for the day (fresh jammies don’t count, sorry!), that they are more productive throughout the day. This is just another example of how your mindset shapes what you do each day.
3. Create “First” To-Do List
I don’t know about you, but my to-do list is never-ending. For every item that I cross off, I add at least 2-3 more. I use a “first to-do list.” Each night, I prepare a to-do list for the next day. Once I write my list, I go back and highlight the 4-5 most important things. The items that MUST get done that day. This helps me focus realistically on what I can do, without clogging up my schedule with the things that aren’t truly necessary for the day.
4. Perfect Your Morning Routine
Humans are creatures of habit. Not only does your brain love routines, structure, and habits, but once you get into a good groove, it’s easier to get out of bed and start your day. Nothing messes up your time management more than a late (read: chaotic) start to the day.
Try to set your alarm clock for the same time every day, preferably before the kids wake up. The morning is a great time to set aside a few minutes for you. Think of your morning routine as a way to charge yourself up for the day.
Here are a few morning routine ideas for busy moms:
- Drink your coffee first (before any chores) and ENJOY it. You deserve it!
- Do a quick yoga workout (lots of quick yoga morning routine on YouTube)
- Go for a walk or run outside
- Walk the dog
- Spend a few minutes thinking about dinner (need to defrost meat?)
- Make lunches
Your morning routine can be as personalized to you as you want it to be. Want to spend 30 minutes crocheting instead of jogging? Great! Want to meditate with Headspace rather than doing yoga? Awesome!
The key is to make your morning routine peaceful and energizing for YOU. Mornings don’t need to be chaotic. Let them fuel your day.
Disclaimer: I’m a real person and sometimes my mornings are chaotic, but I try hard to stick with my own morning routine, and when that happens, I feel happier, more fulfilled, and more productive.
5. Try Time Blocking with a Planner
Sometimes schedule adjustments have to be made, and that’s just part of life. Keeping a paper planner (or app) can help you make quick adjustments.
Some moms love bullet journals, and some love to use the calendar method. Regardless, writing down your appointments as well as little tasks you need to do. If you’re working at home, schedule your coffee breaks, lunch breaks, etc. Keeping each block of time accounted for helps you avoid wasted time throughout the day.
Time blocking accounts for all of the tiny details that take up time (but we don’t really realize it). Include things like:
- Walking to the bus
- Walking the dog
- Showering after your morning run
- Cutting veggies for snack time
Time blocking also helps you to stick the schedule because you know how much time each activity lasts.
6. Make Your Evening Routine
Just like your morning routine, it’s important to establish (and stick to) an evening routine. This includes everything from starting to cook dinner to putting the kids to sleep and beyond.
Here’s a sample evening routine that takes into account daily chores:
- Kids clean up playroom while dinner is prepped
- Mom or Dad cooks dinner
- Eat dinner as a family
- Everyone clears the table
- Older kids can get brush their teeth and put on pajamas and get ready for bed while Mom and Dad put the swaddle on the baby
- Read stories and kids go to bed
That’s a good example of the dinner to bed part of the evening. Once the kids are asleep, you can keep a quick nighttime checklist to make the morning run smoother. In our house, this includes:
- Prepping the coffee pot for the morning
- Doing one more load of laundry (baby clothes sure add up, don’t they?)
- Lunches made for the next day
- Floor swept
This might seem like a lot, but if you have a plan for it, it’s more likely to happen. Plus, who doesn’t love the coffee ready to go first thing in the morning?
7. Grocery Shop Just Once
If possible, head to the grocery store just once per week. Several quick trips can really add up over the course of the week. If you meal plan (another time saver), one weekly trip should suffice.
8. Set a Timer for Tasks
Researchers have found that using a timer for tasks helps you stay on track. Why? You don’t have to waste time checking your phone (how long have I been doing this?). Just set your timer, do the task, and don’t worry about the time until you hear the beep.
Plus, timers help you stick to your schedule better.
9. Limit Social Media During the Day
Social media is a fun escape during the day. Maybe you like to read about new recipes or catch up with friends. Because social media can be a quick slip from 15 minutes to one hour (ask me how I know), try limiting it during the day. Set a timer (yes, really!) and enjoy it on a break. Setting limits can help you enjoy all the fun of social media without losing track of time.
What about you?
What is your favorite time management tip?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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